By David Williams
Wales skipper Jac Morgan is expecting a few tugs on his jersey, a bit of niggle and a few harsh words when he finds himself playing against his Ospreys club captain Justin Tipuric in the game against the Barbarians.
But while many see the non-capped match as being a bit of a jamboree, Morgan is going to impress upon his players that they will be representing their country – just as they did in France during the recent World Cup.
Here's the Wales team that will take on the Barbarians at the Principality Stadium on Saturday 🏉
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny starts in his final Wales game 🏴
Flanker Jac Morgan captains the side 💪
Dragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother handed first Wales start 👏#BBCRugby
— BBC ScrumV (@BBCScrumV) November 2, 2023
“It’s always an honour to play for Wales. To be able to put on that jersey means a hell of a lot for everyone – capped or uncapped, you are still representing Wales in this game,” said Morgan.
“It will be a great experience for me, especially playing against ‘Tips’ having played with him for the last few years.
“I know the guys who are up against Alun Wyn are excited, and they have a huge amount of respect for him as a player, a person, and as a leader.
“We haven’t spoken about him or Justin. It’s just a chance to celebrate their careers along with Leigh Halfpenny’s.
“There is no doubt there will be a jersey pulled, or a bit of niggle or words said. I expect that, along with some good humour as a bit of a wind-up, but I’m looking forward to playing some positive rugby.
“Alun Wyn is obviously going to be pretty motivated out there to give a good performance. The professionalism and standards Alun Wyn, Tips and Leigh set as players, have been pretty inspirational for the young boys coming through.
“That’s what we aspire to be. Even at the end of their careers, they are probably among the last people out on the training field still trying to get better and improve.”
Jac Morgan will captain Wales against the Barbarianshttps://t.co/w5N9myOiMV.
— PA Sport (@pasport) November 2, 2023
There are always tries on offer for the fans when the Baa-Baas come to town and the Eddie Jones and Sott Robertson coached outfit have plenty of attacking flair in their backs, and power upfront.
“I was obviously disappointed about the quarter final result against Argentina, but I’ve had a couple of weeks rest and recovery and I’m now looking forward to this weekend. We’ve been trying to lean a couple of new things in training this week,” added Morgan.
George North says he is not contemplating following the likes of fellow Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar into international retirement.
Halfpenny, Jones and Tipuric are the centre of attention.
Jones, who made a world record 158 Test match appearances for Wales, captains a Barbarians team that features 93 times-capped flanker Tipuric among his colleagues.
Alun Wyn Jones leads the Barbarians against Wales on Saturday 🏉
— BBC ScrumV (@BBCScrumV) November 1, 2023
And full-back Halfpenny, with 101 caps under his belt, is set for a final Wales outing before moving to the southern hemisphere, where he is expected to join Super Rugby giants the Crusaders.
Fly-half Biggar, meanwhile, left the international stage following Wales’ World Cup campaign in France and continues to play for Top 14 club Toulon.
At 31, centre North can reflect on a Wales career that has yielded 118 caps and 47 tries, but his appetite for more remains firmly intact.
“I felt like I was really happy with my performance in the World Cup,” said North, who will partner Johnny Williams in Wales’ midfield this weekend.
“(I am) still competing, so for me, I am very much still wanting to play and compete for that jersey. It is still a huge part of me and a big driver for me.
“If the boss (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) keeps picking me, I will keep doing the best I can.
“It is obviously a sad day to be losing them. They are big characters and big players for us and have delivered on numerous occasions in big games that people still talk about now.
“But that is the evolution of rugby and you have got to keep up with the curve.
“I think we saw in the World Cup a number of younger players putting their hands up and taking a step forward. It is time for these boys to get that exposure and get into Test match rugby.”
This Weekends rugby schedule.
Two big games on the TV, starting tonight with Ospreys taking on the Sharks 🏉🍺🍸
Saturday 2.30pm: Wales v Barbarians 🏉
Live on our 3 big screens 📺📺📺 pic.twitter.com/h8l33b95tc
— Ammanford CC (@AmmanfordCC) November 3, 2023
North, meanwhile, has paid glowing tributes to Jones, Tipuric and Halfpenny as he prepares to share a big-match stage with them for a final time.
“Al is a guy I’ve known for many years and played alongside,” he added.
“He is an absolute Trojan horse, what he has given to Welsh rugby over the, what is it, 25-30 years he has been playing! For Al to have his last game at home, playing against Wales, is special for him.
“I think Justin is probably one of the best players I’ve played with, his understanding of the game, how best to apply himself and one of the fittest players.
“He could play anywhere. Some people say he could play from full-back to back-row and I am sure he could do a better job than most of us.
“Leigh is another awesome servant of Welsh rugby, a close friend of mine and a brother in arms.
“He literally leaves no stone unturned and he goes out of his way to help anyone and everyone. For Leigh to finish at home is special for him and his family and he has got an exciting next step as well.”
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) November 3, 2023